Should Pharmacists Have Business Cards?

Business cards continue to serve as an opportunity for human interaction in an otherwise digital world.

We've all been at a conference, presentation, or chance encounter where the conversation flows and information is exchanged. Someone asks, "Do you have a business card?" to which you answer, "No."

If you've ever regretted this moment, then you need a business card.

Business cards have been around since the 15th century, when they were known as "visiting cards" that served as an introduction for social or business purposes.

Today, these 3.5 x 2-inch cards continue to serve as an opportunity for human interaction in an otherwise digital world. The business card makes a visual first impression, confirms that you are invested in your profession, and gives the recipient concrete means to remember you for future interaction.

Business cards provided by employers usually include the company logo as well as your name, title, and contact information. Many employers will issue you a business card when you obtain a new position or are promoted from within.

If business cards are not a part of your workplace culture, then suggest the idea at your next staff meeting as a means to promote your hospital or community pharmacy to colleagues and clients. If cards are not in the budget, then think about ordering your own online for future professional introductions, but be sure to get approval for any company logo you use.

What about a personal card for professional use? If you are moving on and plan to build a network of contacts, then create a card that contains your personal information. You don't want the card's recipient to attempt to contact you through your former employer after you left your position.

If you are an entrepreneur, then a personal card promoting your newly created pharmacy app complete with a QR code and links to your Facebook or LinkedIn page would be appropriate.

New graduate still job searching or re-entering the job market? A card to reach you while you're networking is essential.

Retiring? Your updated personal contact information would be fitting to stay connected to colleagues.

Personal cards can also be creative. Take the dentist who transformed his card into a million-dollar bill after the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" debuted. By adding the phrases "For a Million Dollar Smile" and "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" to his traditional contact information, the cards became an instant icebreaker.

Or take the divorce attorney who printed identical information on each side of a perforation running down the center of the card. Plastic, rubber, magnetic, pop-up, digital, metal, and even edible cards are being circulated; however, pharmacists might want to stick with a basic, high-quality paper card for professional consideration.

Business cards come with their own set of etiquette. Always leave home with a few cards in your purse or wallet, because you never know if the woman dining next to you at your favorite restaurant heads up HR at your dream job.

Request business cards from your peers at professional meetings. Exchange an extra card that can be passed along in the future within your individual networks, but wait for those in a higher position to offer you his or her business card before you request theirs.

Take a minute to read and comment on a card when it is initially received. For example, if the cardholder's name is unusual, ask for the correct pronunciation.

After receiving a business card, make a notation on the back regarding any details about your conversation, then follow-up via e-mail or phone several days later.

Business cards will continue to thrive as an important career development tool because they offer the rare opportunity for face-to-face interaction in an otherwise computer-connected world.